China Everbright Limited, an international investment and asset management company, based in Hong Kong, acquired all shares of Albania’s Tirana International Airport in 2016.
Under the operation of Everbright, the passenger volume of the airport has increased by 50 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing airports in Europe.
Rolf Castro-Vasquez, CEO of Tirana International Airport, pointed out that the passenger flow was expected to reach 3 million this year, up from just 2 million in 2016.
As the only international airport in the country, Tirana International Airport faces higher requirements since the country has a growing number of people working and living overseas.
After the Chinese company took over the airport, it put in a lot of money to repair, remodel and upgrade the airport’s runways, buildings and other facilities, said Hu Jiangdong, managing director of Everbright Overseas Infrastructure Investment Fund, China Everbright Limited.
Hu said more than 10 routes had been added from the airport in the past three years. The company also planned to expand the airport terminals to satisfy the needs of the increasing passenger flow.
Merthan Cikalleshi, an Albanian who works in Milan, Italy, said he used to have to buy tickets two weeks in advance due to the lack of flights. With the efforts of the Chinese company, more flights are now available, and the tickets are cheaper.
The company aims to stimulate the local economy by building the airport into the landmark of Albania, Hu said.
More than 300 locals are employed in the airport, with an added 500 during the peak season. The construction of the airport required over 2,000 people to work in related fields such as catering, shopping and parking.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and Albania, Tirana International Airport is better operated, and the facilities have greatly improved, effectively promoting the country’s trade and tourism, said Damian Gjiknuri, Minister of Energy and Industry of Albania.
The company is working with other Chinese companies such as mobile giant Huawei and hopes to employ the technologies back home to develop new functions and services in the airport.